Saturday, May 28, 2022

In two months, Navassa approves 400 residential units as environmental proposals rev up

(Left) Navassa approved preliminary site plan for phase one of River Bend in October, adding 300 single-family units. (Right) Indian Creek's first phase, including 100 single-family units, was approved in September. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Town of Navassa)
(Left) Navassa approved preliminary site plan for phase one of River Bend in October, adding 300 single-family units. (Right) Indian Creek’s first phase, including 100 single-family units, was approved in September. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Town of Navassa)

NAVASSA — The Town of Navassa has reached a critical turning point.

Wednesday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will host a public information session to weigh in on spending $11.3 million in habitat restoration projects at the former Kerr-McGee Superfund site in town. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented its findings that about 100 acres including the former creosote site are ready for redevelopment.

In the past few months, the town awarded preliminary plat approval for initial phases in its two largest Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), Indian Creek and River Bend. The town approved Indian Creek’s first phase of development, 100 single-family units, in September. And last month, Navassa approved River Bend’s first phase, which will add 300 single-family units. The town expects to review River Bend’s second phase this month, which will add 170 townhouse units.

The PUD’s have been on the books for years, but these recent plat approvals signify real movement on the projects, according to the town’s planner, Barnes Sutton. If fully built out, both PUDs will add a combined 5,790 new residential units to Navassa, more than quintupling the town’s current population of 2,000.

Given the confluence of changes ahead, Sutton is aiming to get all stakeholders around one table.

“I just think with the draft [NOAA] plan coming out, with some of the proposals that were selected for the first phase, it probably would be good to get all those voices in the same room and to talk about some of the commonalities between the projects and the opportunity to link them.”

Linking development

When Sutton looks at aerial images of Navassa, he sees a chance to get things right (page 24 of the draft NOAA plan shows all projects up for consideration). In most communities, growth happens sporadically, or at least, on a project-by-project basis. But in Navassa, the town’s two biggest residential development projects appear to be simultaneously picking up speed.

Sutton is organizing a stakeholder meeting this month in hopes to identify property owners in between the two PUDs to pitch his optimistic goal of linking the projects with a nature trail.

“I do understand that its ambitious in nature. To me, looking at the map and knowing the history, it just makes too much sense,” Sutton said.

The Town of Navassa is looking to coordinate growth between two major Planned Unit Developments (PUD), shown in green. Indian Creek PUD straddles Daniels Road and RiverBend PUD is located off Cedar Hill Road. The Kerr-McGee Superfund site, in blue, is poised for redevelopment, according to an October 2019 EPA report. In yellow, two of NOAA's proposed restoration projects, including Indian Creek (center) and Lower Cape Fear Bottomlands Conservation (right). (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Brunswick County GIS, edited by Port City Daily)
The Town of Navassa is looking to coordinate growth between two major Planned Unit Developments (PUD), shown in green. Indian Creek PUD straddles Daniels Road and RiverBend PUD is located off Cedar Hill Road. The Kerr-McGee Superfund site, in blue, is poised for redevelopment, according to an October 2019 EPA report. In yellow, two of NOAA’s proposed restoration projects, including Indian Creek (center) and Lower Cape Fear Bottomlands Conservation (right). (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Brunswick County GIS, edited by Port City Daily)

Navassa’s longtime locals have a lower median income than the county’s average. Hoping to incorporate rather than exclude the town’s current residents, Sutton sees coordinated growth as a way to encourage the new developments to recognize the town’s existing character.

“With there being so much vacant land in Navassa right now, we have an opportunity to really create something that’s going to build up the community that we have,” he said. “I’d rather make the push for it now while we have the chance.”

The stakeholder meeting won’t be open to the general public, Sutton said, but he hopes it will include state and local environmental groups, public organizations, and private developers. He said the town may consider acquiring easements to make room for a public trail that would stretch between River Bend and Indian Creek, but it’s too soon to tell.

South of River Bend, on Royster Road, the town will soon add a new 3.9-acre waterfront park, donated by the developers. And just south of the River Bend Park is the town’s existing Davis Creek Park off Cedar Hill Road, which Sutton sees as yet another interconnection opportunity.

One of five of NOAA’s proposed projects includes acquiring two parcels of waterfront land north of Sturgeon Creek. The acquisitions would cost approximately $1.15 million, according to the plan, at 72-acres total, with 50-acres to be transferred to a third-party as a conservation easement to prevent residential development. Across Sturgeon Creek and just a few hundred feet closer to the bridge crossing, the Town of Leland is planning its own waterfront park, Sturgeon Creek Park. Leland does not yet have funding secured to complete the park, but a conceptual plan is underway, with 16 parcels already acquired by the town.

As for the NOAA projects, Sutton said he is hoping to save room for low-impact use in upland areas to make room for future trails. The projects focus on coastal restoration, with funding made available from a portion of a 2014 lawsuit settlement by Tronox (formerly Kerr-McGee), the party responsible for polluting large swaths of waterfront acreage in Navassa.

“I think, with proper planning and partnerships, we could create something really unique and a real benefit,” Sutton said. “Not just to the town but to the region.”

Community meeting, public comment

NOAA will host a public information session on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The session will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Navassa Comunity Center.

Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted until Dec. 2. Send public comments to NOAA Coastal Marine Specialist, Howard Schnabolk, via email or mail:

  • howard.schnabolk@noaa.gov
    • Include the subject line “Kerr-McGee Draft Restoration Plan Comment”
  • Howard Schnabolk ℅ NOAA Restoration Center
    2234 South Hobson Ave
    Charleston, SC 29405

View preliminary site plans for phase one of both River Bend and Indian Creek below:

Preliminary site plans for phase one of development in Navassa’s two PUDs by Johanna Ferebee on Scribd


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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